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Reader Poll: Who Do You Think Will Be Indicted Next?

The special counsel’s indictments are growing in the Trump classified documents case.


They say that misery loves company, and Donald Trump is no longer alone in being indicted for allegedly mishandling classified documents. And he may get more company soon.

Trump and his body man Walt Nauta have both been charged in the investigation into the former president’s handling of classified material. Nauta’s charging caught many people off guard, as special counsel Jack Smith, who leads the investigation, has played his cards close to his chest.

But it shows that Smith’s investigation is more far-reaching than initially expected.

Who Is Todd Blanche, Trump’s New Lawyer in Classified Docs Case?

Trump is suddenly shaking up his legal team as he faces a federal indictment.

Todd Blanche
Selcuk Acar/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Todd Blanche

As now twice-indicted former President Donald Trump confronts yet another legal battle, he is shaking up his legal team for the umpteenth time.

Trump announced on Truth Social Friday that he is calling up Todd Blanche “and a firm to be named later” to represent him as he faces charges for mishandling and refusing to return classified government information after leaving the White House.

With the call-up, the twice-impeached and liable-for-sexual-abuse former president is saying bye-bye to lawyers Jim Trusty and John Rowley. The departure was unexpected, as Trusty had been on CNN just hours earlier going to bat to defend Trump.

Blanche is an elite white-collar criminal defense lawyer and former federal prosecutor. Previously, he has represented former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort and Igor Fruman, a former Rudy Giuliani associate who allegedly helped scour Ukraine for damaging information on Trump’s rivals. Fruman was sentenced to a one-year prison term for a campaign finance violation.

Manafort was able to evade mortgage fraud and other charges with the help of Blanche—charges Blanche had called “politically motivated,” just as Trump’s team calls the ones he faces now.

For their part, Trusty and Rowley claim to be resigning because it is “a logical moment” to step aside since the case has been filed in Miami. It is unclear why exactly it’s a “logical moment” for someone’s two defense lawyers to “resign” just because it’s in Miami (unless they personally felt victimized by Ron DeSantis’s war on civil rights or something).

Perhaps Trump fired them to shake up his legal defenses, given how poor his track record in the courts has been up to this point. But Trump recruited Blanche before his Manhattan arraignment too, and well, we saw how that went. Perhaps the lawyers did leave of their own volition, but to jump from a sinking ship. Either way, the shake-up doesn’t necessarily bode strongly for the serial criminal.

The Butler Did It: Trump Aide Walt Nauta Also Indicted Over Classified Docs

The legal case against Donald Trump keeps growing.

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post/Getty Images
Walt Nauta

Donald Trump’s aide Walt Nauta has been charged as part of the investigation into the former president’s alleged mishandling of classified documents.

Trump on Thursday became the first former president to be federally indicted when he was charged with seven counts, which reportedly include violations of the Espionage Act, obstruction, and making false statements. Other charges are expected against some of his allies, but it is not yet known what those charges might include.

The charges against Nauta have not yet been revealed, but he has been a particular focus of special counsel Jack Smith’s team. Investigators suspected Nauta had helped move and possibly hide classified documents stored at Mar-a-Lago.

Nauta joined Trump’s team as a military valet at the White House, and he is one of the few remaining staffers from Trump’s time in office. After Trump lost the presidency, Nauta went to work for him at Mar-a-Lago, eventually leaving the military to stay on as a civilian aide. Nauta has quickly become Trump’s right-hand man: At the White House, he would reportedly stand nearby, ready with whatever Trump needed, be it a coat, a drink, or a piece of paper. Now he shadows Trump on all of his campaign appearances.

He also moves boxes at Mar-a-Lago. Prosecutors obtained notes from one of Trump’s lawyers, Evan Corcoran, which revealed that Trump and Nauta knew exactly where and when Corcoran was planning to search for the documents at Mar-a-Lago.

Nauta had previously testified that Trump asked him to move boxes out of the storage room both before and after the subpoena was issued. The Guardian reported that prosecutors could be investigating whether Nauta knew exactly what was in the boxes he was moving.

At one point, another Mar-a-Lago employee helped Nauta move some of the boxes. That second employee, while draining the resort pool in October, flooded a room full of computer services used to store surveillance footage from around the property. It is unclear whether the flood was accidental or intentional.

According to Corcoran’s notes, Nauta had also offered to help him look through the boxes in the storage room, which Corcoran declined. But he took breaks during the multiday search, leaving the storage room unattended multiple times.

Trump lashed out Friday at the Department of Justice over Nauta’s indictment, calling the department employees “thugs” on Truth Social. “They are trying to destroy his life, like the lives of so many others, hoping that he will say bad things about ‘Trump,’” he wrote. “The FBI and DOJ are CORRUPT!”

This story has been updated.

Trump in 2016 on Protecting Classified Info: “No One Will Be Above the Law”

Trump has repeatedly advocated for imprisonment for those who commit a crime like the one he was just charged with.

Mark Makela/Getty Images
Donald Trump in 2016

Former President Donald Trump has now been twice criminally indicted, this time facing federal charges for taking hundreds of classified documents from the White House and refusing to turn them over. It’s a fun development given that he has repeatedly called for the lengthy imprisonment of those who mishandle classified information.

“On political corruption, we are going to restore honor to our government,” Trump said at a North Carolina rally in August 2016, while first campaigning for president. “In my administration, I’m going to enforce all laws concerning the protection of classified information. No one will be above the law.”

“One of the first things we must do is to enforce all classification rules and to enforce all laws relating to the handling of classified information,” he said a month later at a Pennsylvania rally.

His repeated calls were an attack on his then-opponent, Hillary Clinton, as he successfully “but her emails”–ed his way into the White House. He repeated the calls for imprisonment as president too.

“That is the most confidential stuff,” Trump said in 2017, after calls between him and foreign governments, as well as communications between soon-to-be national security adviser Michael Flynn and foreign governments, were leaked. “Classified. That’s classified. You go to prison when you release stuff like that.”

“He leaked CLASSIFIED information, for which he should be prosecuted,” Trump tweeted in April 2018, heeding false accusations that former FBI Director James Comey released classified information to the media.

In 2020, Trump repeatedly said that former national security adviser John Bolton should be imprisoned “for many, many years” for his memoir that apparently included “classified information, highly classified information and confidential information.”

Trump even went as far as to tell Fox host Brian Kilmeade that Bolton should go to jail whether he knew he leaked information or not.

The former president has insisted that the material he took to his lavish Florida estate was already declassified and that he has the power to declassify documents anyway, “just by thinking about it.”  But in a newly released audio recording, Trump himself admits what everyone else already knew: He doesn’t have some magical power to declassify things, especially when he’s not even president.

In the recording, Trump says he held onto a classified Pentagon document about a potential attack on Iran, speaking to two people who did not have security clearance. “This totally wins my case, you know. Except it is, like, highly confidential. Secret. This is secret information,” Trump said. “As president, I could have declassified, but now I can’t,” he concedes.

Keep that pretty open admission (of again, what we already know to be true) in mind as Republicans trip over themselves finding new ways to defend Trump. For instance, Senator J.D. Vance insists that “everyone agrees the president has the authority to declassify anything,” even while the man he’s defending has outright admitted he does not.

Only One 2024 GOP Candidate Is Brave Enough To Criticize Trump After Indictment

Why bother running in an election if you won’t dare to call out your main opponent?

Donald Trump
Cheriss May/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Donald Trump is the first former president to be both federally indicted and indicted at all, and yet his rivals for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination are too scared to use that against him.

Republicans were livid at the Justice Department after Trump was indicted Thursday night for allegedly mishandling classified documents, and the other GOP presidential hopefuls were no exception. Almost all have accused the Biden administration of pushing a politically motivated investigation.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is second to Trump in the polls (albeit by a country mile) and his favorite target, slammed the supposed “weaponization of the federal government.” “We have for years witnessed an uneven application of the law depending upon political affiliation,” he tweeted.

Senator Tim Scott also decried the “weaponization of the Department [of] Justice” against Trump, and said that the scales of justice are “weighted.”

Vivek Ramaswamy said there were “two standards of justice” and promised to pardon Trump if he is elected next year. He also said the United States is an “administrative police state” and pushed the GOP-backed falsehood that the January 6 rioters were “peaceful … protesters.”

Nikki Haley, who served as ambassador to the U.N. under Trump, also called out supposed “double standards” and “vendetta politics” in a bland tweet. “This is not how justice should be pursued in our country,” she said. “It’s time to move beyond the endless drama and distractions.”

Former Vice President Mike Pence—who, don’t forget, Trump said deserved to be hangedsaid he was “deeply troubled” by the indictment.

“But let me be very clear: No one is above the law,” he added.

Chris Christie, who is hinging his whole campaign on being the anti-Trump, also said that no one is above the law. But he seemed unwilling to go further, urging people to wait and “see what the facts are when any possible indictment is released.”

The only candidate to take a firm stand was Asa Hutchinson. The former Arkansas governor called on Trump to drop his presidential campaign.

“With the news that Donald Trump has been indicted for the second time, our country finds itself in a position that weakens our democracy,” Hutchinson said in a statement. “Donald Trump’s actions—from his willful disregard for the Constitution to his disrespect for the rule of law—should not define our nation or the Republican Party.”

Doug Burgum has yet to comment on the indictment.

The candidates’ pussyfooting should come as no surprise: They have been loath to condemn him for anything, even when he was criminally indicted or found liable for sexual abuse. Rather than take a stand, they’re content to cower behind Trump and hope his fan base will transfer its rabid loyalty to one of them.

This post has been updated.

Trump Judge Aileen Cannon Will Oversee Classified Documents Case

Aileen Cannon has a history of delivering wins for Team Trump.

Al Drago/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The judge initially assigned to oversee Donald Trump’s latest indictment lawsuit has a history of cutting him major breaks in the exact same case.

The court summons sent to Trump and his legal team Thursday shows that U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon will initially oversee the case. Trump appointed Cannon to the bench in 2020.

Although many may have forgotten her name, Cannon received nationwide scrutiny at the start of the investigation into Trump’s alleged mishandling of classified documents. Following the FBI’s raid on Mar-a-Lago, and upset with how things were going, Trump filed a made-up motion titled a “Motion for Judicial Oversight and Additional Relief.”

Cannon agreed to hear the motion, despite having no jurisdiction to do so, and ultimately assigned a “special master” to review all of the material the FBI found at Mar-a-Lago before the investigation could proceed—a victory for Team Trump.

The Justice Department appealed the decision, and the Eleventh Circuit Court ultimately ruled that neither Cannon nor Trump had had any legal right for their actions. The appeals court threw Cannon’s decision out entirely.

As The New Republic’s Matt Ford previously explained,

Much of the panel’s analysis is aimed at Trump’s specific arguments before it, but there is also a palpable disdain for Cannon’s handling of the case to this point. At every point possible, the Eleventh Circuit highlighted the shortcomings in her analysis of precedent, the limited scope of her inquiries on factual matters, and the perfunctory way in which she applied the appropriate legal tests—all of which happened to tilt things in Trump’s favor. By their very nature, appeals courts often criticize rulings made by lower court judges. Even by these standards and expectations, the panel took great pains to make it unusually clear that Cannon had not just made a few simple mistakes.

This time around, Trump’s case would still be heard by a jury, but Cannon would get to determine Trump’s sentence. If she does oversee the case again, there’s no telling what breaks she’ll give Trump this time around.

Read more about Cannon and her “reign of error” here.

Republicans Lash Out After Trump Indictment: “We Have Now Reached a War Phase”

Republicans are doubling down on their defense of Donald Trump.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy
Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy

Twice-impeached, criminally indicted, and liable for sexual abuse former President Donald Trump has been indicted once again, this time for taking classified documents away from the White House and refusing to give them back.

The unsealed indictment held many damning revelations, from Trump being “personally involved” in packing up boxes full of classified information as he left the White House, to flaunting the secret documents to staffers, a publisher and writer, and even a representative of his PAC.

Showing off one classified document from the Department of Defense, he called it “highly confidential” and “secret,” adding, “As president I could have declassified it,” and, “Now I can’t, you know, but this is still a secret.”

And despite all that, prominent Republicans have been quadrupling down—violently—on defending the man that has helped lead them lose election after election.

“We have now reached a war phase,” Representative Andy Biggs tweeted Friday. “Eye for an eye,” he added, ignoring that a Florida grand jury decided on its own accord to indict the former president.

“These are just thugs that are going after President Trump,” Representative Tim Burchett followed, technically calling the jury of Trump’s peers the pejorative. “Now granted, he’s not perfect. He shouldn’t have had the files. I get that. But neither should Clinton. Neither should Reagan. Neither should either Bush. Neither should Obama and definitely not Biden, but they all do, and they all have.” Nothing has indicated that every single former president or vice president has taken classified documents out of the White House upon departure; those who have been found, including Mike Pence and President Biden, have promptly returned any documents found. Which Trump actively chose not to do.

Senator Mike Lee did not even engage one ounce with the charges, instead saying, “The Biden administration’s actions can only be compared to the type of oppressive tactics routeinly seen in nations such as Venezuela, Bolivia, and Nicaragua, which are absolutely alien and unacceptable in America.” According to Lee, holding a former president accountable for holding secret documents and actively taking steps to hide them somehow “echoes despotism, making it fundamentally at odds with American democratic values.”

(At least to the last part, Lee is not entirely wrong: it is fundamentally at odds with American history to hold presidents accountable for their crimes—from Iran Contra, to our laundry list of war crimes and military invasions, to sexual harassment.)

“Today is indeed a dark day for the United States of America,” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said on Twitter before the indictment was even unsealed. “It is unconscionable for a President to indict the leading candidate opposing him. Joe Biden kept classified documents for decades. I, and every American who believes in the rule of law, stand with President Trump against this grave injustice. House Republicans will hold this brazen weaponization of power accountable,” he finished, assuring that there is no doubt: the Republican Party is planting its flag in supporting a man already found guilty of other crimes.

Ohio Senator J.D. Vance followed suit, saying the indictment is somehow Biden “using the justice system to preemptively steal the 2024 election,” in order to attack “his most likely 2024 opponent.” A wild suggestion given the basic fact that a grand jury of Americans voted to indict Trump, not Biden.

Nancy Mace pretended to not even be aware of a recording of Trump admitting that he knew the documents were classified and that he couldn’t declassify them, immediately pivoting instead to talking about Biden and Pence, who, again, both complied with returning documents upon discovery.

And, of course, the right’s attempts to already peddle theories about Biden stealing an election are dangerous, given so many of their own most prominent figures were caught red-handed trying to overturn the 2020 election.

“We’re living in a 3rd world Banana Republic,” Donald Trump, Jr. said about a country holding someone accountable for taking classified documents, refusing to give them back, and then lying about it. If they can do it to you, they can do it to anyone, patriots.

And as far as general meltdowns go, Representative Clay Higgins may be in the deeper end.

Presented without comment.

This post has been updated.

Trump Just Blew a Big Hole in His Own Defense in Classified Docs Probe

A new recording shows Trump bragging about “secret” military information he hadn’t declassified.

Donald Trump
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump may have just destroyed his own defense, all because he couldn’t stop bragging.

Trump is now the first former president to be federally indicted, over his alleged mishandling of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate. He has repeatedly insisted that all the material he brought to Florida was already declassified, and anyway, being president enabled him to declassify documents at will, including “just by thinking about it.”

But he knew better. In an audio recording of a July 2021 meeting, Trump admits that he had classified material and could not declassify it because he no longer holds office, CNN reported Friday.

Federal prosecutors obtained the recording, during which Trump says he held onto a classified Pentagon document about a potential attack on Iran. He met with two people working on an autobiography of his former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, neither of whom had security clearance.

In the recording, Trump claims that he has a “big pile of papers” that undermine previous reports that chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley had convinced Trump not to attack Iran near the end of his presidency. Trump refers to one document as if he has it in front of him, and at one point there is the sound of paper rustling, as if he was showing the document off.

CNN was able to acquire a portion of the recording transcript, which shows Trump saying, “This totally wins my case, you know. Except it is, like, highly confidential. Secret. This is secret information.”

“As president, I could have declassified, but now I can’t,” he admits.

The meeting took place six months before Trump’s legal team sent 15 boxes of records and classified documents back to the National Archives, and more than a year before the FBI raided Mar-a-Lago, seizing more than 100 documents. Federal prosecutors have been unable to locate this particular Iran document.

Trump’s biggest defense is that he could declassify whatever material he wanted. His allies had previously argued that he had a “standing declassification order” that would immediately declassify any document removed from the Oval Office. Trump himself claimed he could declassify things “just by thinking about it.” But he knew it was all bunk—and he said so.

Twice impeached, now twice indicted, found liable for sexual abuse and defamation, sued for defamation twice more, and under investigation for trying to overturn the 2020 election.… It’s not looking pretty.

The World Is on Fire, and Joe Manchin Still Doesn’t Think the Issue Is Climate Change

The West Virginia senator was asked directly about climate change and the wildfires, and his answer was infuriatingly obtuse.

Senator Joe Manchin
Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images
Senator Joe Manchin

On Thursday, conservative Senator and infamous fossil fuel baron Joe Manchin was asked about the northern wildfires that have left a third of America enveloped in health-threatening smog.

And Manchin answered in Manchin fashion, telling HuffPost reporter Igor Bobic that “everything is a factor” when asked whether climate change helps exacerbate wildfires. He parroted the conservative talking point that better management of forest lands is needed (true, but not even remotely enough to deal with the disasters we’re facing).

“Climate change is global climate... Most of the pollution today is coming from Asia,” Manchin added.

The notion is a common conservative talking point: Why should the United States curtail its emissions if China and India emit so much? The point is faulty for a few reasons, some logical, some philosophical.

For one, the United States emits a whopping 14.86 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per person. China’s is almost half that, at 8.05; India’s is even lower, at 1.93.

For another, whatever happened to the United States being a global leader? The castle on the hill? A driver of progress, a role model for other countries to aspire towards? It’s remarkable how a movement so fixated on patriotism, on flaunting supposed national excellency, is so quick to shrug off the possibility of whipping the world to collaborate together in pursuit of our basic common interest of the survival of the planet.

The obvious contradiction is similarly evident in the conservative ideology’s self-assured reverence of “responsibility.”

If members of the American conservative movement were fiscally responsible, they would identify the astronomical cost of environmental degradation, perennial disaster response, and wildlife, food, and water system devastation, and respond accordingly. If they were personally responsible, they would have the humility to identify the actors liable for such destruction, and excise them from power and influence—rather than just throwing blame to other countries. If they were interpersonally responsible, perhaps they’d get the stones to remove themselves from associating with such a movement that led us to today in the first place.

Manchin may pretend that his more conservative proclivities are some nod towards reasoned, thoughtful responsibility (as opposed to self-interest in how financially implicated he himself is in fossil fuels). But even with that self-purportion, there simply is no responsibility in the conservative movement, personally, or otherwise. Only a philosophy built on responsibility towards each other—those you know, and those you perhaps never will—will be sufficient to meet the challenges of the day.

Until such a day, the haze of our time will only grow thicker.

Smoke Is Fine, Longtime Tobacco and Coal Shill Assures Fox News Viewers

For reasons passing understanding, Steve Milloy has been invited to share his opinion on the East Coast's air quality crisis.

Smoke clouds a view of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
Celal Gunes/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
A view of the smoke-covered Capitol building as air quality fell to dangerous levels due to Canada's wildfires on June 8.

Is smoke okay or is it bad and also Canada’s fault? Those are a few of the weighty ideas Fox News has wrestled with over the last week in attempting to craft a response to the United States’ worst-ever day of wildfire pollution.

Wednesday night, Fox News host Laura Ingraham invited general-purpose reactionary Steve Milloy, whose career includes stints shilling for the tobacco and coal industry, to weigh in. “Look, the air is ugly, it’s unpleasant to breathe and for a lot of people they get anxiety over it,” Milloy said. “But the reality is just that there’s no health risk.”

“There’s nothing in them,” Milloy said of the haze still blanketing the East Coast. “They have no effect. EPA has all this testing on real-life human beings, it shows no effect. This is total junk science.” (Junk Science is also the name of his blog.)

If you look at the actual research, of course, a key problem with wildfire smoke is precisely those tiny particles (PM2.5) small enough to infiltrate lungs and even bloodstreams. As Jeva Lange reported for Heatmap, these can indeed be deadly:

The link between elevated PM2.5 particle concentrations and increased mortality can be dramatic. The aforementioned international study on wildfire-related PM2.5 and daily mortality found that “all-cause mortality” — that is, deaths that aren’t accidents — increases by 1.9%, cardiovascular mortality by 1.7%, and respiratory mortality by 1.9% with every bump of 10 micrograms of pollutant per one cubic meter of air. If New York’s PM2.5 concentration averages, say, 75 micrograms over three days this week (the concentration roughly expected for an average AQI of 150), that would mean people of all ages are 12% more likely to die than they otherwise would be. 

Armed with two Masters degrees and a J.D., Milloy has spent much of his career flitting around as a mercenary for whatever death-dealing industry will have him, defending the honor of various killer smogs. Milloy spent years working to amplify tobacco industry-friendly talking points that the harms of cigarette smoke were overblown. That included his time as executive director of The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition, or TASCC, which at one point sought to “assist Phillip Morris in its targeted state and national efforts” by “questioning the validity of scientific studies.” 

Milloy’s defense of tobacco smoke in some cases sounded a lot like his defense of wildfire smoke yesterday. While still getting funding from Philip Morris, Milloy wrote for Fox that secondhand smoke was simply “annoying to many nonsmokers. That is the essence of the controversy and where the debate should lie—the rights of smokers to smoke in public places versus the rights of nonsmokers to be free of tobacco smoke.” 

Like fellow travelers who defended cigarettes, Milloy has long since moved on to attacking climate science and policymaking. He’s spent no shortage of time proffering shareholder resolutions to get companies to stop talking about climate change. TASCC got $40,000 from ExxonMobil between 2000 and 2003. The company also gave $50,000 to the Free Enterprise Action Institute, another body registered to Milloy’s Maryland address, Mother Jones reported. He went on to serve on Donald Trump’s transition team, and since 2020 has been a member of the Heartland Institute’s Board of Directors.  

When I met him briefly at a Heartland conference in 2019, Milloy lamented that oil companies like ExxonMobil had gotten too scared to fund truth-telling climate skeptics like himself. As he once told The New Yorker, after all, “Wealth is what makes people happy, not pristine air, which you’ll never get.”